Pan's Labyrinth is collecting some of the strongest reviews of the awards season, but the movie — considered by many to be the front-runner for the Best Foreign Language film Oscar — is collecting word-of-mouth praise for one of the bonus features that will be included on its DVD release, too. It seems preposterous, but Dakota Fanning auditioned for the role of Ofelia, a young girl trying to come to terms with the death of her father and the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. After all, Fanning is Hollywood's go-to tween these days.

Here are some highlights from the audition.


Casting Director: Any questions before we begin, Dakota?

Fanning: No, sir. I just want to say how excited I am to be auditioning for this role. When my agent told me they were remaking Alice in Wonderland in Spain, I just couldn't believe it.

CD: Um, I'm not sure that's quite accurate. Did you read the script?

Fanning: No, it's in Spanish. I guess you guys haven't translated it yet.

CD: Um, yeah. That's not going to be happening. This is a Spanish film.

Fanning: I know. I've never been to Spain!

CD: No, it's in Spanish. The whole film. It's a, you know, Spanish film. Have you heard of the director, Guillermo del Toro?

Fanning: Of course. I just haven't seen any of his movies. My mom says they're pretty violent, especially Blade II, so I'm not allowed to see them yet. I still haven't seen Man on Fire.

CD: You were good in it. It's why we brought you in today. The studio heads feel, if we're going to get some American money invested into this project, we're going to need someone who can sell the story to the American people. Someone cute, like you.

Fanning: But who doesn't love Alice in Wonderland?

CD: See, I think someone misled you. This has got elements of children's fantasy like Alice in Wonderland, but … well, it's not really for kids. It's, well, pretty bloody. Very bloody. Depressing, too. Just depressing adult fantasy … sorta.

Fanning: But I'll be playing Alice?

CD: You should just stop thinking about Alice in Wonderland. This character's name is Ofelia. She finds a labyrinth owned by this faun named Pan, this enigmatic character. You don't really know what he's about. Is he real? Is he in Ofelia's head?

Fanning: Is she crazy?

CD: No, this is just her way of coping with the pain of losing her father and her mother marrying this cruel Spanish captain.

Fanning: But this has nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland.

CD: That's what I'm trying to say. You've been misled. But don't worry, it's a lot better than what you've been told to expect.

Fanning: I think maybe I should speak with my agent. I'm not really the "ethnic" type.

At this point, the casting director sighs before standing; his chair falls away, skating over linoleum.

CD: That's it, tell Guillermo I can't do this. If he makes me cast an American, I quit. This film is going to blow unless we make it our own way!

Fanning, to her credit, sat quietly through the tirade. She didn't begin crying until later, when the casting director accused her of being the next Haley Joel Osment.

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